The Iberia Parish Council will hold a special meeting Wednesday night to make final adjustments and adopt the 2020 revenue and expense budgets for the 34 funds that make up the consolidated parish budget.
The council held four special meetings in October to go over the funds, a few each week. In the final meeting, the council touched on some potential adjustments and set the date for Wednesday’s meeting to adopt the budget.
At the Oct. 28 meeting, one idea being considered was moving some administration expenses that are now paid from the parish’s general fund to other funds. To accomplish this, time that Parish President Larry Richard, Chief Administrative Officer Scott Saunier and other administration employees would charge time spent working on public works, building maintenance or other projects which have their own dedicated funding against those departments.
During the initial discussions, Saunier estimated that could relieve some of the pressure on the general fund, which has been stressed in recent years due to the loss of oil and gas royalty revenues. With the loss of millions in royalty payments, the general fund became one of the only unrestricted funds available to the government to fund projects and emergency expenditures.
Although ad valorem and sales taxes Iberia Parish have started to show some recovery over the last year, the administration is still paying off bonds issued for roads, bridges and the former Cajun RVera under the Romero administration. At that time, prior to the slump in the price of oil, the parish was receiving enough money from mineral revenues to cover those payments.
The royalty revenues also covered most of the road maintenance fund’s costs for the parish. When an attempt to pass a road maintenance tax failed in 2018, it left a hole in that portion of the budget.
On a positive note, the Richard administration has managed to cut costs and services to balance budgets each year even in the dire economic winds that blew its way. Its audit earlier this fall showed the parish growing its reserve funds and increasing the number of days of operating funds on hand from less than a month to almost three months.
The Iberia Parish Council will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening in the council meeting room on the fourth floor of the Iberia Parish Courthouse, 300 Iberia St.